Six months ago I went back into the hospital with severe upper abdominal pain. I thought it was “just” another gallbladder attack. Turned out that it was a tad more severe – I’d developed acute pancreatitis thanks to a gallstone traveling across the common bile duct and throwing everything out of whack – so much so that a couple nurses on the ward where I was placed insisted that there was a typo in the lipase count because it was so high. After five days in the hospital, my gallbladder came out via laproscopic surgery. I healed up fairly quickly – surprisingly quickly, honestly – and life got back to normal, such as it was.
Only it didn’t quite get back to normal. The post-partum depression I mentioned in that post is still lingering. I’m still taking Zoloft every day, and while it’s working… I can feel the creeping panic and mental breakdown threatening at the corners of my head from time to time. The only side effect I’ve had is a random pressure sensation in my head, feeling my ears pound and getting a bit dizzy at times where it doesn’t make much sense (i.e. getting up too quickly). It happens at least once per day, and it’s a bit annoying but nothing that I can’t handle, so I’m just trying to accept it as part of my new normal and move along.
At my last appointment with my OB/GYN, we agreed that it was best for me to stay on the medication through the new year and revisit it in January. I expressed concern that with the holidays coming up, I might need the help, both in light of the PPD diagnosis and my historical problems dealing with the holidays. Over the years I’ve come to hate the holiday season for the most part. It’s just overwhelming and I feel it brings out the absolute ugliest in every one, myself included. While I love decorating a tree and getting together with friends or relatives, I just really don’t want much to do with the rest of int all – the parties, the pressure for presents, the “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” b.s… (and so help me Goddess if I hear Mariah Carey’s song one more time…)
Ahem, anyway… I think you get my point.
My hope is that once the holidays pass, I can start weaning off of the Zoloft and see if I’m able to manage without medication. In an ideal world, I don’t want to stay on the stuff any longer than I have to. There’s a fear, though, that maybe this is something permanent. What became obvious as post-partum depression definitely had a background of pre-maternity depression, too. I frankly had needed some help for a while, but shame and fear kept me from seeking it. I think the post-partum reality just finally kicked me into gear. As I explained to the nurse in the emergency room back in May, when it’s just me… I’d rather deal with it without medication. But that perspective changes now that I’m responsible for the welfare of another human being.
The biggest catalyst in my post-partum depression were my feelings of failure about breastfeeding. I went into the frustrations in great detail months ago… I’m not going to do that again. I can say that yes, I’m glad I made the choice to stop breastfeeding. It was causing a dangerous emotional situation for me, which thankfully did NOT lead to a greater emotional situation with Max. Seeing Erich grab a bottle stopped hurting. I started relaxing and enjoyed nursing Max, cuddling him with a bottle just as I tried (but was not successful with) at the breast. I still think breastfeeding is a beautiful thing and something that every mom should at least try before discounting it. I do wish I would have been able to do it longer… but life does what it’s going to do. Max is a happy little guy and I know he wasn’t hurt by the decision at all. If anything, both he and I were helped by the move to formula because he has a happier, more relaxed mom.
My only regret now is honestly not getting help for the depression earlier – to stop breastfeeding earlier, so I could have had some extra peaceful weeks with Max, rather than feeling like a horrible mother who was “poisoning” her child with formula.
It’s only a small regret, though… one that creeps up there when the depression threatens to overwhelm me again. Thankfully I’m able to dismiss it and smack it back down.
But still, I have that fear that this medication may be a permanent thing. I know it shouldn’t matter – the most important thing is that I’m able to treat the symptoms I’m having and keep things under control so I can function normally. Yet that annoying social stigma exists – the shame at being different, of having a problem.
I know I shouldn’t feel this way. But I do, and I need to figure out how to accept that.
This post originally published on 11/3/13 at my personal blog, Measi's Musings.
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